The 146th Preakness Stakes boasts a small field of ten top-quality contenders, headlined by the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit who will seek the 2021 Triple Crown.
The middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown will be anything but normal. Only four new shooters have won the Preakness, but with the Kentucky Derby winner’s performance in doubt and a lacklustre field, this could be a wide-open race.
Ten Furlongs takes a closer look at each runner:
Ram: The 45th starter in Preakness history for legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas, impressed in his last two stars which he won. However, they were the first two wins in his career of 9 starts.
The improving 3YO son of American Pharoah is unlikely to defeat race favourites to take home the 7th victory in this race for his conditioner.
Keepmeinmind: The son of Laoban improved in the Derby itself finishing seventh after a slow start. He should have a solid pace to close with regular rider David Cohen aboard and with an improved trip, the 3YO can finish in a better pace. The Robertino Diodoro trained colt has only won a single start, however he has amassed US$$424,987 in career earnings. Diodoro will be attempting his first Preakness. B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm co-owned last year’s Preakness runner-up Authentic.
Medina Spirit: The 3YO son of Protonico is a crowd favourite after he displayed both talent and tenacity in the Kentucky Derby (2021), when he was challenged by Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie, and Essential Quality all the way through Churchill Downs’ homestretch and would not let any of those horses pass him. He set a solid pace in the Kentucky Derby and was able to settle into a good cruising speed all the way through the far turn before Mandaloun turned up the heat. Stablemate Concert Tour could make things considerably tougher for Medina Spirit.
The colt who has yet to finish worse than second in six career starts, is enmeshed in controversy. His hard-fought win in the Kentucky Derby is currently under review after a drug test administered after the race revealed that the colt had betamethasone, a corticosteroid, in his blood. Betamethasone is allowed as a therapeutic treatment in horses but must be completely out of the body by race day. Trainer Bob Baffert acknowledged on May 11 that Medina Spirit was treated for a skin condition with an ointment containing betamethasone up to the day before the Kentucky Derby … and now Medina Spirit’s connections, along with the rest of the horse racing world, await the results of a second blood test and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s ruling on his Derby win, which could be weeks away.
Bob Baffert became the all-time winningest trainer in Kentucky Derby history 10 days ago, scoring his seventh victory to pass Ben Jones. That accomplishment now may be reversed because of the positive drug test. Baffert also has a shot at taking sole position atop the trainer’s leaderboard in all-time Preakness victories Saturday with either Medina Spirit or Concert Tour. He has won the race seven times, tied with 19th Century trainer Robert Wyndham Walden, and nearly claimed his eighth last September when Authentic came up just short against Swiss Skydiver.
Medina Spirit has earned US$2,175,200 from 6 starts.
Crowded Trade: The Chad Brown trained 3YO has shown talent and grit in all his three starts, winning his debut in a sprint race by a length in January, finishing second by a nose to longshot Weyburn in the March 6 Gotham Stakes at a mile, and then battling in the stretch before settling for third, 1 ¼ lengths behind longshots Bourbonic and Dynamic One in the Wood Memorial Stakes
Chad Brown won the Preakness in his very first appearance in 2017 with Cloud Computing, who was co-owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and ridden by Hall of Famer Castellano. Castellano also won the Preakness aboard Bernardini in 2006, his first appearance in eight starts prior to this year.
Midnight Bourbon: The son of dual-Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow broke badly and endured a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby (2021), and if the first can be avoided then we can expect a much better performance in the Preakness from this well-bred, classy horse. The Winchell Thoroughbreds owned colt has a good chance of scoring an upset in the Preakness, winning the third Preakness Stakes for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.
Rombauer: The son of Twirling Candy earned an automatic berth to the Preakness when he won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February, his second win from six starts. His connections skipped the Kentucky Derby to aim at this race instead.
Jockey Flavien Prat, gets aboard Rombauer for the first time in the Preakness, may hope to and it will be interesting to see if he tries to employ the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes’ strategy in a race where the Mike McCarthy colt tracked in third behind pacesetter Highly Motivated and pressing Essential Quality (the eventual winner) rather than settling near the rear of the field. However, the up-front pace in the Preakness could be swift.
This is the first Preakness appearance for all of Rombauer’s connections.
France Go de Ina: The only international raider in the field, the 3YO son of son of Travers Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Will Take Charge and out of a mare by Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, is definitely worth including in exotic bets as he is bred to run all day. The Hideyuki Mori trained colt finished 10 ½ lengths behind winner Rebel’s Romance in the UAE Derby at Meydan in his first start as a 3YO earlier this year. He is a long-striding type who doesn’t appear to have a swift turn of foot but has the pedigree and caliber to take on his betters causing an upset.
Unbridled Honor: This son of Honor Code has a good pedigree for the Preakness distance (he’s closely related to Gr.1 winners Roman Ruler and El Corredor). If the soon-to-be Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher charge is able to set a fast and early pace, he could cause an upset.
Risk Taking: Chad Brown’s other charge, a 3Yo son of Medaglia d’Oro jumped on the Kentucky Derby trail with an impressive 3 ¾-length win in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Trainer Chad Brown has been satisfied with Risk Taking’s progress thus far. Owners Klaravich Stables also owned 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing. The colt has won two of his five starts, amassing US$200,030.
Concert Tour: Gary and Mary West owned 3YO, was one of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby this past winter and spring but skipped the race to target the Preakness after he finished a disappointing third in the Arkansas Derby last month. The Bob Baffert trained son of Street Sense will be piloted by Mike Smith for the first time. Smith could very well urge Concert Tour to the front to take advantage of his mount's speed. Concert Tour is a fresh horse with proven form and as such he logically profiles as a leading win candidate in Saturday’s second jewel of the Triple Crown making Baffert the all-time winningest trainer in Preakness history.
Distance 1+3⁄16 miles (9.5 furlongs), Record , 1:53, Secretariat (1973, 13⁄16 miles), 2:36.75, Montague (1890, 1+1⁄2 miles), 2:17.50, Buddhist (1889, 11⁄4 miles), 1:46.40, Royal Tourist (1908, 11⁄16 miles), 1:44.20, Bryn Mawr (1904, 1 mile 70 yards), 1:39.80, Effendi (1909, 1 mile), 1:51, Watervale (1911, 11⁄8 miles), Surface Dirt, Track Left-handed, Qualification 3-year-old, Weight Colt/Gelding: 126 pounds (57 kg), Filly: 121 pounds (55 kg), Purse US$1.5 million